Aber 1 - the first meeting
Back in 1995, some of us UK denizens of the rec.motorcycles newsgroup met up at Aberystwyth. This is the story of that meeting...
The gathering of the clan
Friday 28th July dawned much as any other day, at the start. But this was no ordinary day. This was to be the meeting of a sizable part of the .uk DoD…
Gaz had taken time off from partying in the test threads to organise this meeting of the giants, and the testing of the Aberystwyth roads. The flung gauntlet was taken, the meet was on.
Following Gaz's directions, I headed through Wales, alarmed by the weather. Where was the endless drizzle, the fog, what was that hot orb in the sky? Was the weather defective? At last I arrived at the destination and parked the bike in the driveway of Gaz's mansion, with its views over the sheep-strewn hills. Gaz himself strode out to meet me, his tweeds and brogues immaculate. By him hobbled Chris de Clays, sword stick gripped firmly in hand. After exchanging the passwords, I was allowed in and fed with some delicious spaghetti bolognese. Soon afterwards, Andy the Puch arrived. Mark Neal and Marie had arrived, and so the next stage was to go to the local hotel, where Ged Martin and Ivan Reid were terrorising the landlord.
At the hotel, Ged was sitting in the lounge by a stack of FAQs. He introduced himself and Ivan, and it was at this point I discovered that Ged's name was not Ged, but Jed. In fact, this was the first of the many points I (and others) discovered this, the following days were to be punctuated with the words "it's bloody Jed". Ivan was sitting by him, cunningly disguising the fact that he was a space alien - a fact that the following day would reveal…
The evening wore on with idle banter, until suddenly a female American voice enquired in my left ear "Is one of you Gaz?". An American? Jacqueline Kowtko? Ivan sat looking smug. "Since I came to Earth, er joined rec.moto, two years ago, I remember Jacqueline first posting and not disguising her nationality". "You smug bastard" said Ged ("it's bloody Jed"), "have a bloody FAQ". "Thank you" replied Ivan in his assumed Australian accent, as he started to devour the pages.
Eventually the night's proceedings came to a close and Ged ("it's bloody Jed"), Ivan the space alien and I stayed at the hotel, while the others returned to the mansion after arranging a rendezvous the following morning at the mansion.
We meet Adny
The following morning dawned bright, and our suspicions about the Welsh weather began to come to the fore. "It's all lies, isn't it?" Ged ibJ said over breakfast. "Bloody sunny days, and look at those beautiful roads.". The sun outside shone on the arrow-straight, two lanes either way dual carriageway. "Where's the fun in that?".
It was while going to the bikes that I made the discovery about Ivan. He had forgotten to put his jacket on before walking out, and the unmistakeable scales and armour plates showed distinct on his back. Oh well, what the hell, I thought.
We rode out again to the mansion, to see another bike outside. A Fireblade, Waxoyl glistening in the sun, wooden topbox occupying the pillion seat, on/off road tyres resting on the perfect tarmac. Ged ibJ leapt from Captain Beaky and rushed round the mansion, followed closely by Ivan and me. Standing in the sheep paddock at the rear was a slender figure, maybe 5'10" tall, with glasses and a light beard. "You're Adny, aren't you?" demanded Ged ibJ. The figure nodded. There seemed an uncanny resemblance to James Mason playing Captain Nemo. Ged ibJ, who bore a similar uncanny resemblance to Donald Pleasance playing the blind PoW, pointed to his own glasses. "Here you are then, try and take them".
The two protagonists slowly closed, both flexing their hands and elbows. With lightning-like speed, both simultaneously reached out and grabbed the other's glasses. Both held their trophies aloft while wandering around slowly, occasionally bumping into things. We sat them down carefully and re-exchanged their glasses, after which they sat calmly, honour satisfied.
Now seemed a good time to look over the bikes. The Fireblade I have already described. Chris had an XJ900, with a Brough Superior tank and a clip on the front forks to hold his cane, and covered in IAM stickers. Gaz's FJ1200 had smears of bloody wool down each side of the bellypan, and several sheep and dog decals on the fairing. Mark's Ducati 600TL was equipped with trailie front end and extended rear suspension, and, interestingly, had a hole in the side of the engine cases through which a kick-start could be inserted. Andy the Pugh's FJ1100 was equipped with pannier rails crafted from the finest Sheffield steel, and stickers saying "If you can read this, you're too close" on the front of the fairing. My own Trident 900 is British Racing Green, with union jacks all along the side panels and portraits of Nelson and Wellington on the tank. Ivan's GSXR600RRRRR was finished in Lucky Strike colours, with race numbers all over. Finally, Ged ibJ's bike was Captain Beaky, or maybe Captain Geeky or Dr. Beaky. A painted Geeky surmounts the impossibly long beak, painted bright yellow, and with fibreglass fangs descending from it. We were later to use this to catch sheep for the barbecue.
Jacqueline was sadly let down by her escort. In the day ahead, she was to get her leg over with all of the unaccompanied males in the group except Ged ibJ, who boasted that he was too big for her but secretly confessed that he had no experience, so wouldn't be able to keep Jacqueline happy. In honour of the event, the Jacqueline Kowtko Leg Over numbers were allocated. It was decided to standardise on a 3 digit number, to allow for future expansion of the list. Some members of the group actually laid claim to 2 numbers, as Jacqueline came back for a second leg over. Even Adny now has a JKLO #, muttering something about Senseless not keeping faith with him…
Now it was time to ride… We pulled up to the silent highway. A sheep 'baa'ed in the distance. Adny twitched briefly, then looked carefully left and right and led us out onto the road. A few minutes later, there was a 'chunk' as the Fireblade went into second gear. The endless straight ribbon, hazed and shimmering in the heat, lay in front of us. Travelling at 30% DoD nominal, we followed in line astern at regular 2 second intervals, looking like a fleet of ducklings being led by their mother.
Today was the day that Gaye Oliver was expected, so the plan was to ride for the morning, then return to the mansion and hopefully meet Gaye. Finally we came to a gap in the central reservation, where we turned around and headed back. Gaz returned alone while the rest of us waited at a local hostelry, where Adny bought us all drinks - even Andy Pugh, whose pineapple juice and coke had even the barman asking for it to be repeated (the second time with a tape recorder on).
Eventually Gaz returned with Gaye and Nick in tow (Nick was riding). The Ducati 750 Sport had 4 headlights on the fairing, and specially modified flip in mirrors to reduce accidental damage.
After more cautious travel up and down the arrow-straight highways and round the perfectly-cambered bends, we decided to return to the hotel and call it a day. Final meeting was at the hotel for more drinks and a further debating session, where Jacqueline proved herself to be a pyromaniac (she likes the smell of cigar smoke, but not smoking them, so she set fire to one - then the box of matches - then the ashtray)…
I set off for home on Sunday morning, leaving the others to another day of riding. Mark Hodgson was due to arrive on the Sunday. With luck, we'll hear from them in the next day or two.
Conclusions - Ged's name is pronounced Jed. The weather in Wales is defective. Welsh roads are perfect. Welsh sheep know lots of novel positions. Ivan Reid is a space alien. Jacqueline Kowtko has a reputation that can only be described as fragile (now…). Pineapple juice and coke is the semen of Satan. We ought to do it again, only this time on sportsbikes. Ged's name is pronounced Jed.
God bless you all. Thanks to Adny and Gaz for a great time.